IRRRB, DEED lose public cash in stock deal


On Sunday, the Duluth News Tribune published a John Myers story detailing a public investment in an Iron Range nonferrous mining project that cost two state agencies half a million dollars.

The IRRRB and DEED each lost about $284,000 when Antofagasta took control of the Ely project, now called Twin Metals.

The loss came after both agencies bought into a Duluth Metals predecessor, Franconia Minerals, in a complicated economic development deal that started in 2006.

Both agencies could have decided not to buy that stock. Or they could have sold their stock immediately after acquiring it and made roughly a $180,000 profit each. Instead, they held it until Duluth Metals ceased to exist.

It’s very unusual for public agencies to buy private stock. This kind of loss is part of the reason why. Nevertheless, new IRRRB commissioner (and former DEED commissioner) Mark Phillips explains that it won’t be the last. State Sen. David Tomassoni also defends the practice.

Myers’ story is worth reading.


  1. Is the IRRRB in the business of trying to make money or bringing industry/jobs to the Range? Sounds like they’re saying we may have lost money on this, but it was a good investment because we took a chance on making money. When they forgive loans (lose money) they say it is an investment in the Range and the IRRRB is not in the business of making money but bringing opportunity. My take from this is no matter how the IRRRB loses the money it is ok, that only happens when you lose other peoples money…… Not your own.

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